Ireland has the “highest potential for biomethane production per capita” says report

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Excitement continues to build in relation to the AD, biogas and biomethane sectors in the Republic of Ireland, which has led to a new report being published by the NNFCC, to provide insight into the AD market, policy and regulatory landscape in the country ahead of an expected wave of growth. 

The ambitious targets set by the EU and the Irish government for biomethane are expected to drive more policy changes in sector in the upcoming years. The Irish Biomethane Strategy is expected in 2023, detailing concrete actions to deliver on the 5.7TWh ambition. Furthermore, the introduction of the new RHO is expected in 2024, under which fuel suppliers for the heat sector will be obligated to source a fraction of their fuel from renewable sources.

Lucy Hopwood, Business Development Director and Lead Consultant for Bioenergy & Anaerobic Digestion at NNFCC says:

“After ten years reporting on the UK AD Market, we are delighted to be launching our first AD Deployment in the Republic of Ireland report. A secure, domestic low-carbon energy system is the ambition of each and every nation in Europe, but the potential varies vastly depending on the size, nature and maturity of the target countries and each sector respectively.

“The Republic of Ireland is clearly in a strong position, identified as having the highest potential for biomethane production per capita, and with big ambitions in the latest Climate Action Plan (CAP), aiming for the production of up to 5.7TWh of biomethane coming from 200 AD plants by 2030.”

Speaking on some of the key findings from the ‘Anaerobic Digestion Deployment in the Republic of Ireland’ report, NNFCC senior consultant, Andrea Muñoz García, says:

“The Irish AD, biogas and biomethane sectors are still in their infancy, with only 30 AD plants currently in operation in Ireland. This is a small number compared to other European countries with well-developed AD sectors, such as the UK, Germany or Denmark.

“However, coming late to the AD market, Ireland has the advantage of learning from those that have moved earlier. Changes in the Irish landscape have already started to happen. For example, the Ireland’s Renewable Gas Registry went live in 2022 and producers of renewable gas that inject it to the grid are issued certificates that can be an additional income source for biomethane producers when traded.” 

Andrea explains that regarding production, in 2020, an important milestone was achieved, with the first ever injection of biomethane into the Irish grid.

“In terms of feedstock, most operational plants in Ireland are waste-fed. This differs from the UK sector, where the split between farm and waste-fed installed capacity is lower. The Irish Biomethane Strategy, currently being developed, is expected to be farmer-centric, and therefore increasing the number of farm-fed plants as the sector develops.

“Finally, in terms of plant type and capacity, at present most operational AD plants in Ireland have an installed capacity that ranges between 250-500kWe. These produce biogas that is burnt in CHPs for the production of electricity and/or heat. Biomethane is expected to be the main output of future plants,” adds Andrea.

The report contains details about the capacity and feedstock requirements of anaerobic digestion (AD) plants listed within NNFCC’s new Irish AD Deployment database which collates data about Irish AD projects from public announcement through to operation and is updated on a monthly basis.

The database contains information on AD plants processing material from both agricultural and waste sources and projects operating with combined heat & power (CHP) or biomethane-to-grid (BtG) output.

Similar data and analysis on current and future development trends for anaerobic digestion projects in the UK, including information on more than 1,000 planned and operational AD facilities, plus current data on UK biomethane refuelling stations are also available.

Both reports are available to buy via the NNFCC’s website

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